Updated: 2/6/06; 9:15:57 PM

 Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Google Base

Google Base goes live. Its a very interesting idea: presense without persistence. Its the "I need a place to post on a whim." The examples given of items that people might want to post include party and event planning services, recipes, a used car listing and genome of the 1918 influenza pandemic. The variety is there and it simply amounts to more searchable content. I like the interface. The problem, of course, is that there is no way to tell if any of its actually valid... (but then some say that is true of the web in general ;-)
 Friday, November 11, 2005

New Feature in Manila 9.6 Beta

Jake just posted a new feature on the Manila Beta root updates server - Arbitrary Member Names. This feature is important because it does not require an email address to log-in. This became crucially important for K-12 schools where kids either did not have email addresses or their parents would not allow them to give them out. (Quite understandable.)

Once we get a little feedback on this feature to make sure we got it right, I think we'll have the best blogging system for education. The moderation features we are also going to add will ensure that. Look for more information to appear on the Manila academic site shortly. The new feature consists of three parts:
  • A new server-level preference for whether member names are required to be email addresses. The preference can be overridden on a per-site basis using the Admin site.
  • A series of changes in Manila make adjustments to Manila's email behaviors, based on whether or not an email address can be determined for a member. This includes email notification for new/changed content, bulletins, and DG reply notifications.
  • A new verb, manilaSuite.members.getMemberEmail, is provided for getting a member's email address, since the name of a member table is no longer guaranteed to be a valid email address itself. Manila calls this verb whenever it needs to send email to a member.
Go ahead and give it try on the Manila Beta site.
 Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Long Flight

Doc Searls posted on Boeing 777-200LR setting a distance record for a commercial jetliner by flying from Hong Kong to Heathrow over North America. The long range capabilities of these aircraft are truly amazing, however, whether the passengers are actually capable of that length of flight remains an open question.

Darwin Award Candidate

The Kansas State Board of Education approved a proposal to teach intelligent design along with evolution as a scientific explanation for how life began. Now, does that qualify them for a Darwin Award...
 Monday, November 7, 2005

Knowledgeorama OPML Directory Tool

Andy Sylvester sent an email this morning announcing that he had just launched a new weblog using Radio and wanted to let us know about a new Radio UserLand tool that he developed for creating OPML directories. He calls it DirectoryTool and it allows you to:
  • Create directory files using the Radio UserLand outliner.
  • Generate HTML files corresponding to the OPML file directory structure.
  • Automatically upload your directory to your Radio UserLand weblog.
For more information, visit his site and the announcement post here

I can't wait to try it out. Thanks for the note Andy.
 Thursday, November 3, 2005

Incomplete Features in Manila 9.6 Beta 2

One item that I receive some questions on has to do with what Jake is describing as an "incomplete feature" relative to the beta 2 release. Though there are an amazing number of new features in the second release - one that several folks have been waiting for - will go into the beta 3 release. Its the ability to have a members' log in not require a valid email address. This turns out to be a really important feature for K-12 bloggers.

The text of the change note --

Arbitrary Login Name: A new in-progress feature, scheduled for Manila 9.6b3, makes it possible to remove the requirement that members' logins be valid email addresses. This feature is intended primarily for K-12 users, who may not have, and may not be allowed to have (or reveal) their own email addresses. This feature is incomplete and currently has no visible effect on Manila's normal behavior.
 Tuesday, November 1, 2005

A Quick Note on the Just Released Manila 9.6 Beta 2

A group of new features have been added to Manila 9.6 now in the Beta 2 version. Please visit the site to try out the new features. Specific change notes are also available. These new features include:
  • Context-sensitive help
  • Ability to specify member passwords
  • Ability to revert news items to pending status
  • More MetaWeblog API Enhancements
  • Enhancements to includeMessage for shortcuts and site structure to make sites and themes more portable just to name a few
Additionally there are New Discussion Group listings features as well as new Administrator features that allows server admins to log in to any Manila site as a managing editor. We also added a host of new Developer features as well.

All in all some excellent additions to the Manila 9.6 beta software. Look for more information on these new features here and on the UserLand Blog in the very near future.
 Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Holloween

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Holloween.

Just a note: if you have never been to Kansas City on Holloween. This is a reason to go - besides the good food. Anyone familiar with the West Bottoms area knows that the area is creepy to begin with - now throw in some really amazing haunted houses and you can see why so many people visit.
 Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Issues for Young People and Blogging

Some schools are asking students or creating policies requiring students to remove their blogs from the public internet.

The article is about a Roman Catholic high school ordering its students to remove personal blogs from the Internet. They are not talking about censorship, they are trying to protect young people from cyberpredators. I've heard similar stories from several educators who are worried that the combination of blogging and student's general greater willingness to provide personal information on-line can to be a dangerous combination.

Though the article pushes the "no blogging policy" towards a free speech debate, its really more about responsible Internet use for teens and giving students a "safer" place to blog. As schools continue their adoption of blogging tools as a great way to communicate in the classroom and help kids learn to write, they also need to consider their potential downside and find ways to mitigate that danger.

I think we all have a lot to learn here.
 Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Emerging Trend

I keep wanting to do more on my blog, but somehow just keep running out of time. I guess I'm going to have to use those wasted hours between 1am and 5am to do something besides sleep.

Anyway, I am really noticing an emerging trend among companies and their increasing interest in developing a blogging capability. While it was focused primarily on internal projects for the first half of this year, the focus has definitely grown to include developing a strategies for external blogging.

The goal, of course, is to develop a group of internal bloggers that can be unleashed upon the outside world. Could it be that the corporate world has really discovered that its easier to participate in the dialogue rather then try to create and control it? It was always impossible, but simply recognizing that is a giant leap forward.

With the number of consumers who are blogging and/or reading blogs (insert your favorite statistic here) as a basic news source, it would seem to be a great direction to go with corporate communications. Imagine a real (rather then contrived) nationwide focus group - all you have to do is listen and respond where appropriate. Its great to see these emerging strategies move us beyond spam and blind advertising?
 Friday, October 21, 2005

Supporting OPML

Jake recently provided some insight on our blog into how UserLand's products can already use OPML to allow you to publish your list of RSS subscriptions. As he mentioned, that's just scratching the surface. There is a much deeper level of support in both our products. You can review the post here to get an idea of how far it can go.
 Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Quick Thoughts on BlogOn 2005

It was a significantly different conference than I anticipated. It was an amazing system of contradictions: on one hand, a relatively mature set of traditional A-List bloggers and tools makers confronting a room full of advertising / PR and corporate types who were discovering the "blogosphere" for the first time.

Listening to the folks from McDonalds, Daimler/Chrysler, and Sprint describe the legal complexity, fear, and trepidation they experienced as they created their first external corporate blogs was amazing. More on that later...
 Friday, October 14, 2005

See You at BlogOn

I will be attending the BlogOn Conference next week. The schedule looks pretty interesting. It will be fun to compare last year's event (held in the Bay Area) with this one (held in New York). My guess is that the venue will help drive the discussion away from technology towards gaining an understanding of the medium's impact on society.
 Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Manila 9.6 Release Getting Closer

We are starting to get pretty close to releasing Manila 9.6 and have just a few more features / issues we would like to address. One often requested feature is to be able to have site members whose user names are not email addresses. This is particularly important for our K-12 educational users. Often kids in the lower grades don't have email accounts or there are specific reasons why their email address can't be provided. This requires a bit of work to make sure we avoid duplicates and provide choices in the event a user name is already in use.
 Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Mods to the New Theme

I'm still working on the new weblog design. There are still some elements that I want to modify. The Blogroll comes from the list of subscriptions in the aggregator. Trying to format them so they are a bit more pleasing to the eye has been tricky. It looks like I will end up pointing to an OPML file that I can format.
 Thursday, October 6, 2005

New Look

In case you didn't notice, I changed my site's theme. It still needs a bit of work, but I'll get there.